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Headword: Ἀβιμέλεχ
Adler number: alpha,45
Translated headword: Abimelech
Vetting Status: high
Translation:
Proper name.[1]
The son of Gideon.[2] He smote his brothers, seventy sons of Gideon's wives,[3] upon a single stone, and none of them was left except Jotham the youngest son,[4] who ran away. As Abimelech was passing through with his people, Jotham went up to the top of the mountain and, raising his voice, told the following parable. "Listen to me, men of Shechem, and God will listen to you. The trees set out[5] to anoint a king over themselves. And they said to the olive, 'Rule over us.' And the olive said to them, 'Should I give up my rich oil, by which -- through me -- God[6] and men receive honor,[7] and go rule over trees?' Then the trees said to the fig, 'Come, rule over us.' And the fig said to them, 'Should I give up my sweetness, my excellent product, and go to rule over the trees?' And the trees said to the vine, 'Come, rule over us.' And the vine said to them, 'Should I give up my wine, merriment for men, and go to rule over the trees?' And all the trees said to the thornbush, 'Come, you rule over us.' And the thornbush said to the trees, 'If you are truly anointing me to rule over you, come stand under[8] my shade. But if not, may fire come from me and consume the cedars of Lebanon.' Now, if you have dealt with my father and his family truthfully and in an upright way, and have made his concubine's son Abimelech king over the men of Shechem, then may you rejoice in him and may he indeed rejoice in you. But if not, may fire issue from Abimelech and consume your leaders and their families. And may fire issue from the men of Shechem and consume Abimelech." And Jotham ran from the presence of Abimelech his brother. But Abimelech ruled over Israel for three years. Then God sent an evil spirit between[9] Abimelech and the men of Shechem. And the men of Shechem dealt treacherously[10] with the house of Abimelech so to lay at Abimelech's feet[11] the blood of Gideon's seventy sons. And so Abimilech set out to beseige the tower.[12] As he approached the tower gate to burn it, a woman threw a piece of a millstone onto his head and crushed his skull. He at once called out to his armor bearer[13], saying, "Draw your sword and kill me, so they can never say I was killed by a woman." So the young man took up his sword and ran him through. And God recompensed the wickedness Abimelech had done to his father in killing his seventy brothers. God also recompensed[14] all the wickedness of the men of Shechem, in accord with the message and parable of Jotham.
Greek Original:
Ἀβιμέλεχ: ὄνομα κύριον. υἱὸς Γεδεών. οὗτος ἐπάταξε τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς αὐτοῦ ἐκ τῶν ἐλευθέρων ἄνδρας ἐβδομήκοντα ἐπὶ λίθον ἕνα, ἐξ ὧν οὐκ ἀπελείφθη πλὴν Ἰωάθαμ τοῦ νεωτέρου διαδράντος. ὃς καὶ παραπορευομένου τοῦ Ἀβιμέλεχ μετὰ τοῦ λαοῦ ἀνῆλθεν ἐπὶ τὴν κορυφὴν τοῦ ὄρους, καὶ ἐπάρας τὴν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ ἔφη πρὸς αὐτοὺς παραβολὴν τοιαύτην. ἀκούσατέ μου, ἄνδρες Σικίμων, καὶ ἀκούσει ὑμῶν ὁ θεός. πορευόμενα ἐπορεύθησαν τὰ ξύλα τοῦ χρίσαι βασιλέα ἐφ' ἑαυτῶν. καὶ εἶπαν τῇ ἐλαίᾳ: βασίλευσον ἐφ' ἡμῶν. καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ἡ ἐλαία: ἀφεῖσα τὴν πιότητά μου, ἣν ἐδόξασεν ἐν ἐμοὶ ὁ θεὸς καὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι, πορευθῶ ἄρχειν τῶν ξύλων; καὶ εἶπον τὰ ξύλα τῇ συκῇ: δεῦρο, βασίλευσον ἐφ' ἡμᾶς. καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ἡ συκῆ: ἀφεῖσα τὴν γλυκύτητά μου καὶ τὸ γέννημά μου τὸ ἀγαθὸν πορευθῶ ἄρχειν τῶν ξύλων; καὶ εἶπον τὰ ξύλα πρὸς τὴν ἄμπελον: δεῦρο, βασίλευσον ἐφ' ἡμῶν. καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ἡ ἄμπελος: ἀφεῖσα τὸν οἶνόν μου καὶ τὴν εὐφροσύνην τῶν ἀνθρώπων πορευθῶ ἄρχειν τῶν ξύλων; καὶ εἶπον πάντα τὰ ξύλα τῇ ῥάμνῳ: δεῦρο, σὺ βασίλευσον ἐφ' ἡμᾶς. καὶ εἶπεν ἡ ῥάμνος πρὸς τὰ ξύλα: εἰ ἐν ἀληθείᾳ χρίετέ με ὑμεῖς τοῦ βασιλεύειν ἐφ' ὑμᾶς, δεῦτε, ὑποστῆτε ἐν τῇ σκιᾷ μου, καὶ εἰ μὴ, ἐξέλθοι πῦρ ἀπ' ἐμοῦ καὶ καταφάγῃ τὰς κέδρους τοῦ Λιβάνου. καὶ νῦν εἰ ἐν ἀληθείᾳ καὶ ὁσιότητι ἐποιήσατε μετὰ τοῦ πατρός μου καὶ μετὰ τοῦ οἴκου αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐβασιλεύσατε τὸν Ἀβιμέλεχ υἱὸν τῆς παιδίσκης αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τοὺς ἄνδρας Σικίμων, εὐφρανθείητε ἐν αὐτῷ, καὶ εὐφρανθείη καί γε αὐτὸς ἐν ὑμῖν: εἰ δὲ μὴ, ἐξέλθοι πῦρ ἐξ Ἀβιμέλεχ καὶ καταφάγοι τοὺς ἄρχοντας ὑμῶν καὶ τοὺς οἴκους αὐτῶν: καὶ ἐξέλθοι πῦρ ἐκ τῶν ἀνδρῶν Σικίμων καὶ καταφάγοι τὸν Ἀβιμέλεχ. καὶ ἀπέδρα Ἰωάθαμ ἀπὸ προσώπου Ἀβιμέλεχ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ. ὁ δὲ Ἀβιμέλεχ ἦρξεν ἐπὶ τὸν Ἰσραὴλ ἔτη τρία. καὶ ἐξαπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς πνεῦμα πονηρὸν ἀνὰ μέσον Ἀβιμέλεχ καὶ ἀνὰ μέσον ἀνδρῶν Σικίμων. καὶ ἠθέτησαν οἱ ἄνδρες Σικίμων ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ Ἀβιμέλεχ τοῦ ἐπαγαγεῖν ἀδικίαν καὶ τὸ αἷμα τῶν ο# υἱῶν Γεδεὼν ἐπὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν Ἀβιμέλεχ. καὶ γὰρ ἀπελθὼν πολεμῆσαι πύργον καὶ προσεγγίσας τῇ θύρᾳ τοῦ πύργου ἐμπρῆσαι αὐτὴν, ἔρριψε γυνὴ κλάσμα μύλου ἐπὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ καὶ συνέτριψε τὸ κράνιον αὐτοῦ. καὶ ἐπιβοήσας ταχὺ εἶπε πρὸς τὸν αἴροντα αὐτοῦ τὰ σκεύη: σπάσον τὴν ῥομφαίαν σου καὶ θανάτωσόν με, μή ποτε εἴπωσιν: γυνὴ αὐτὸν ἀπέκτεινε. καὶ κεντῆσαν αὐτὸν τὸ παιδάριον ἀνεῖλε. καὶ ἐπέστρεψεν ὁ θεὸς τὴν πονηρίαν Ἀβιμέλεχ, ἣν ἐποίησε τῷ πατρὶ αὐτοῦ ἀποκτείνας τοὺς ο# ἀδελφοὺς αὐτοῦ. καὶ πᾶσαν τὴν πονηρίαν ἀνδρῶν Σικίμων ἐπέστρεψεν ὁ θεὸς εἰς τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτῶν κατὰ τὸν λόγον καὶ τὴν παροιμίαν Ἰωάθαμ.
Notes:
Source for the main paragraph (after the initial gloss): George the Monk, Chronicon 148.2-149.20.
[1] Hebrew: אבימלך "my father is king." Used derogatorily and incessantly (31 times) throughout the Abimelech episode in Judges 9 (Boling, NSRV at Judges 9:1).
[2] Literally, "by his wives." The use of ἐλευθέρων here indicates "married women/wives" (see L-S-J). The Massoretic Text (MT) (Judges 8:30; Kohlenberger, Vol. 2, 101) shows נשים našīm, which here means "wives" (Brown, Driver, Briggs {BDB}, 61). The term is to be distinguished from that for Abimelech's mother — פלגש pilegeš "concubine" in the sense of a legitimate wife of secondary rank (Kohlenberger for the suffixed MT form; Boling, NRSV at Judges 8:31).
[3] Literally, "upon a single stone." MT: על אבן אחת ʿal ʾeḇen ʾeḥat (Judges 9:5). See Boling, Judges (Anchor), 171.5. A direct transference from the Hebrew to the LXX.
[4] (Cf. iota 478.) The Greek νεώτερου , comparative understood for the superlative (Smyth, 1082.a) from Hebrew הקטן haqqaton, the "young(est) one" (Judges 9:5).
[5] The Suda's πορεύομενα ἐπορεύθησαν parallels the MT at Judges 9:5 (but not the LXX, which singularizes the finite verb) in its fuller anthropomorphism via the plural finite verb. The participle plus finite verb mimics, but does not parallel, MT usage, which gives infinitive absolute plus finite verb (הלוך הלכו haloḵ halēḵū) (Kautzsch, 342 {113o(1)}; Boling, Judges (Anchor), 173.8). For this genre of fable, see also 2 Kings 14:9-10 and its shadow at 2 Chronicles 25:18-19. the motif bears only general resemblance to Aesop's frog fable. For related motifs, see the source summary in Brown (The New Jerome), 140; Boling, Judges (Anchor), 173.
[6] The Suda singularizes (ὁ θεός ), whereas the MT contains אלהים elohīm to be interpreted as "gods" — not "God." That the translation warrants a plural is supported by the antiquity of the original motif (Boling, Judges (Anchor), 173-74.15; 175.20). The plural is the norm in modern Bible translation.
[7] The standard translation of the MT אשר-בי יכבדו אלהים ואנשים ʾašer-bī yeḵaḇdū ʾelohīm waʾanašīm (Judges 9:9) and the Suda's ἣν...ἄνθρωποι is "by which/whereby gods and men are honored." The Hebrew syntax merits reevaluation. The Jotham parable is a poetic fable cast in prose (Boling, Judges (Anchor) 166, 172-73.8-15, 173.15; for an uncritical opposing view, see Brown (The New Jerome), 140). However, Boling (173.9) and others read the Pi'el active yeḵaḇdū ("ykbdw" in Boling) as a Niph'al passive (are honored). Boling also cites the "kbd" root as Niph'al reflexive in Exodus 14:4, perhaps intending an alternative (but unlikely) reading for Judges 9:9 as "gods and men honor themselves." This approach overlooks the fable's poetic form — a medium that allows the Pi'el to operate intransitively (Kautzsch, 142 {52k}). Relatedly, Kautzsch (Gesenius, in accord with T.K Cheyne) assigns Niph'al senses to Pi'el forms in the poetry of Isaiah 48:8 and 60:11, which just as easily may be read intransitively as "your ear has not opened (responded) [to new things]" and "your gates shall always stand open." In Judges 9:9, the intransitive result is "(by) which, through me, gods and men receive honor." The preposition "bi" (Greek: ἐν ἐμοὶ ), which in Boling's syntax is left "unexplained", provides an instrumental dative (BDB, 89, III.2): "through me." Boling asserts "bi" to be "a third-person suffix" without further discussion; BDB (citing George F. Moore) suggests the third-person "bo" (by/through it) for the "bi" form. Boling does cite the LXX Vaticanus reading "by it"; however, Vaticanus works a simplified solution: ἐν ἧι δοξάσουσι τὸν θεὸν ἄνδρες , "by which men shall honor God" (Brenton, 329). In a near parallel to the MT, the Suda records ἐδόξασεν for a Hebraicized-intransitive ἐδόξασαν (yeḵaḇdū): literally, "regarding which (oil), through my agency, God and men receive honor."
[8] The verb ὑπόστητε also carries the meaning "submit"; the Hebrew at Judges 9:15 (imperative hasū) carries only the sense "take refuge" (BDB, 340).
[9] The duplicated ἀνὰ μέσον is a Hebraism paralleling Judges 9:22 (בין אבימלך ובין בעלי שכם bēn ʾAḇimeleḵ uḇēn baʿalē šeḵem). See also the MT and LXX at Genesis 1:4. For model Greek syntax, see LXX Genesis 32:16 (Brenton, 43)— with the MT (Genesis 32:17) showing the duplicate pattern (Kohlenberger, Vol 1, 88).
[10] For ἀθετέω (deal treacherously), see Lust, Pt. I, 9.
[11] Literally, "to lay upon Abimelech's head his injustice and the blood of Gideon's seventy sons."
[12] For Abimelech's ill-fated siege of the Thebez tower, see Judges 9:50-57.
[13] The term παιδάριον reprises the MT נערו naʿarō (his servant or retainer) at Judges 9:54. Translations render the word as "armor bearer." Boling in his Judges (146.10; 182.54) prefers "squire."
[14] Literally, "turned about onto their head."
References:
Boling, R.G. Judges (The Anchor Bible). New York: Doubleday, 1975.
Boling, R.G. Judges in the Harper Collins Study Bible (NRSV). New York: Harper Collins, 1993.
Brenton, C.L.B. The Septuagint with Apocrypha. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1991 (reprint of 1851 ed.).
Brown, F. Driver, S.R., Briggs, C.A. A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament. Oxford: Clarendon, 1951.
Brown, R.E. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1990.
Kautzsch, E. Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar. Oxford: Clarendon, 1910.
Kohlenberger, J.R. The Interlinear NIV Hebrew-English Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987.
Lust, J. A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint, Part I. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1992.
Smyth, H.W. Greek Grammar. Cambridge: Harvard University, 1984.
Keywords: biography; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; gender and sexuality; history; military affairs; poetry; religion; women
Translated by: Anne Mahoney on 22 August 1998@13:01:24.
Vetted by:
William Hutton (Cosmetics, added keywords, set status) on 27 January 2001@12:09:36.
Craig Miller (Modified translation, notes and bibliography to follow.) on 5 March 2002@09:51:09.
Craig Miller on 5 March 2002@12:40:52.
Craig Miller (Modified and expanded notes, expanded keywords. Bibliography pending.) on 5 March 2002@15:02:20.
Catharine Roth (corrected typos) on 5 March 2002@16:49:22.
Craig Miller on 5 March 2002@23:39:58.
Craig Miller (Bibliography added, cosmetics.) on 6 March 2002@07:38:16.
Craig Miller on 6 March 2002@12:49:31.
Craig Miller on 6 March 2002@14:59:18.
Craig Miller on 1 April 2002@19:33:02.
Raphael Finkel (Added Hebrew texts.) on 31 October 2002@10:19:01.
David Whitehead (added initial note; added x-ref; cosmetics) on 9 June 2003@07:55:20.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 7 August 2013@23:53:33.
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 8 August 2013@16:40:29.
Raphael Finkel (Converted Romanization of Hebrew to ISO 259.) on 7 August 2014@14:15:44.
David Whitehead (coding) on 15 August 2015@07:31:59.

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